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Japan to launch new major tsunami body search

Japan PM braced for vote blow
Tokyo (AFP) April 24, 2011 - Japan's opposition Liberal Democratic Party is expected to win a lower house by-election on Sunday in a blow to Prime Minister Naoto Kan who has been criticised for his handling of the nuclear crisis. In the by-election in central Aichi prefecture, candidates focused on disaster countermeasures after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago. LDP candidate Hideki Niwa, 38, is expected to win the seat, beating four rivals, local media reported.

While Kan's ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which controls the lower house, failed to field a candidate, Niwa and the conservative LDP fiercely criticised his handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis as "irresponsible." Japan also held a second round of local elections on Sunday, picking 73 new city mayors and 63 town and village leaders, with hundreds of municipalities also voting in local assembly elections. Public attention has been focused on reconstruction of the country's disaster-hit northeast and stabilising the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. In Fukushima prefecture, many municipalities, including those evacuated, postponed their vote.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 24, 2011
Nearly 25,000 Japanese troops will Monday start a massive new search for bodies along the Pacific coast where some 12,000 people are still missing after the earthquake and tsunami, the military said.

Some US forces will join the 24,800 soldiers and members of Japan's Coast Guard and police for the third search since the disaster struck on March 11, devastating towns along the northeast.

"They will broadly cover the Pacific coast, areas around major river mouths and other tsunami-hit places," said a spokesman for Japan's Joint Staff.

In the past two major operations they found total 438 bodies, the defence ministry said.

More than 14,000 people were killed in the disaster and some 12,000 are still missing.

In a separate operation launched last Monday, some 2,500 Japanese troops have been searching for bodies within the 30-kilometre (19-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Officials from the local livestock department will also enter the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the plant to inspect the condition of the thousands of cattle, pigs and other animals abandoned as farmers fled the area.

"We haven't had any idea what it is like in the area now. This will be the first time we've entered the zone," said an official of Fukushima prefecture's livestock department.

Some animal rights activists who have entered the area have said there are a considerable number of cattle and other livestock dying.

"When we find dead animals, we will cover them with calcium hydroxide (caustic lime) due to sanitary concerns," the official said.

"We will slaughter those dying after getting permits from owners if they say it's too cruel to leave them like that."

Local officials will also check on the condition of horses that many in Minamisoma city, north of the plant, keep for the community's traditional folk festival, he said.

The no-go zone around the plant came into effect Friday, with police erecting checkpoints to prevent people returning to their homes within the high-radiation area. There is a wider 30-kilometre area where people have been encouraged to leave.

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Body of US tsunami victim found on beach
Los Angeles (AFP) April 12, 2011
The body of a US man swept away by Japan's tsunami when it hit California has been found on a beach, officials said Tuesday, a month after the disaster. The corpse of Dustin Douglas Weber, who disappeared when waves from the March 11 quake and tsunami hit the California coast, was found some 440 miles (700 kilometers) north in neighboring Oregon state. "It was found by some passers by on ... read more

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